"Strength should never be separated from compassion"
Around the world, thousands of different martial arts are practised every day. And while they all have different origins, techniques, benefits and theories, there is one thing they all have in common … timelessness.
"Martial arts are the best form of exercise and fitness," says Master Phil Monaghan, a black belt multi-discipline practitioner (Tae kwon do and Hapkido) with 22 years experience, based in Coffs Harbour, NSW.
"For children, it's great for character and physical development; for teens, it's great for competition fitness and discipline; and as we get older, it helps maintain health, vitality, fitness and that all-important stress relief. So it's an activity you can continue your entire life. "This is more than a sport — it is a fitness regime, a philosophy, a character development program, a system of self defence, a cultural study, a history lesson. And it can be all of these things or just the part you want. That's why it continues to grow as a popular pastime and lifestyle.
Here's a sample of a few of the most popular martial arts practiced in Australia.
1.Tae kwon do (translation: "The way of the hand and foot")
-This is a Korean martial art and also an Olympic sport. Who can forget Australian Lauren Burns winning gold at the 2000 Olympics?
-This sport has a very strong competition aspect — although if you choose you can go right through to black belt, without having done any competition.
-It consists of about 70 percent kicks and 30 percent hand strikes.
-It also includes forms (called "poomse") that teach discipline, as well as the strength, flexibility, cardiovascular and other benefits of tae kwon do.
-Visit http://www.taekwondoaustralia.org.au/ for more information.
2.Judo (translation: "The gentle way")
-This Olympic sport has Japanese origins.
-Judo is predominantly a grappling art — lots of grabbing your opponent and throwing to the ground. From there you continue with ground movements. The theory is that you're using your opponent's own balance and power against them.
-The primary benefits are strength and balance and there is a strong focus on competition as well … great if you have a competitive streak or just want to get hands on!
-Visit http://www.judoaustralia.com.au/ for more information.
3.Karate (translation: "Empty hand")
-Karate is traditionally a Japanese striking art — you use your hands for striking about 70 percent of the time and your legs for kicking about 30 percent.
-It's great for building your strength base and has great benefits for fitness as well as spirituality, as some schools incorporate a degree of meditation.
-Karate includes "kumite" (sparring) and "kata" (pre-arranged forms).
-Visit http://www.akf.com.au/ for more information.
4.Kung fu/ Wushu (translation: "Expertise" or "skill")
-Kung fu originated in China and consists of hard and soft styles.
-Hard styles include wing chung and jeet kune Do — invented by the legendary Bruce Lee.
-Tai chi is an example of a soft style.
-Kung fu has fighting systems as well as very acrobatic forms and can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
-Visit http://www.akwf.com/ for more information.
(Author :Annette Campbell)